COMMENT: Textbook Gaslighting in Netflix’s Sunset

Selling Sunset on Netflix follows the lives of real estate agents from the Oppenheim Group selling luxury homes in LA.

The show is considered one of Netflix’s most binge worthy reality TV shows, and while successful reality television usually features antagonists that we all love to hate, some fans have spoken up about textbook gaslighting on display by a select few characters.

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation and emotional abuse where the bully or abuser misleads someone, making them question their judgments.

There are varying degrees of gaslighting evident throughout the series, and more often than not, it is Christine Quinn, who is frequently the driving force behind this aspect of the show’s drama.

In previous series, examples include the troublemaking duo Davina and Christine persuading their co-stars that their toxic behaviour, which is clearly intentionally upsetting, was nothing to be upset about.

While the majority of Christina’s targets had the wherewithal not to put up with this behaviour, instances occurred when people ended up succumbing to manipulative tactics and brushing her behaviour off as a misunderstanding, as much their fault as hers’.

In the newest season, Christina is up to her old tricks.

The final scene of season four between Mary and Christine is the ultimate display of her gaslighting tactics.

As the seasons progressed, we witnessed a breakdown of Christine and Mary’s friendship. Once close, Mary’s growing closeness with co-worker Chrishell made Mary and Christine drift, due to  Chrishell and Christine having a long history of drama. By season four, Mary and Christine can hardly be described as friends, barely talking. Throughout this breakdown Mary attempted to reach out and mend their relationship, however it came to avail as her efforts were not reciprocated by Christine.

At the end of season four Christine tries to twist the narrative, arguing it was Mary’s lack of effort that ultimately contributed to the end of their friendship.

The good news is that Mary is not persuaded, and although she says it has taken her a long time to get to this point, she knows she is not to blame.

This behaviour has led people to wonder if the show should be scripted differently and if not then some behaviour should be reprimanded by the show as it presents toxicity at its very worst for people to consume for pleasure. 

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